Ding Dong: New menu that takes you down memory lane

I shuffled, no, rolled out of the restaurant, uttering an endless string of words in contentment in the midst. 

My tummy lucked out on a recent media tasting at Ding Dong, Ann Siang Hill's gem of playful mod-Asian cuisine. In the recent month, the establishment has injected an air of nostalgia into the menu with a series of eclectic culinary creations and the team was proud to showcase their new lineup in true peacock fashion; the resulting protestation of my exploding belly seemingly irrelevant in this situation.

Cocktails at lunchtime would have struck me as sacrilegious a few years ago. But now, what I would do for a afternoon trip. The Ding Dong Sour 2.0 ($20) put a swing in my step, the piquant concoction of Chinese wine, citrus, aromatic bitters and Yamazaki distillers reserve teasing the palate on, in the right direction.

Ding Dong Sour 2.0
From the Cold Plates section, we ransacked the Spicy Beef Salad with Bittermelon, Asparagus and Tamarind ($19), Vegetable 'Kon Lao Me' with sliced Pork ($18) and the Burnt Nasu with crab and crispy shrimp ($20).

My allegiance falls with the former, the perfectly tuned flavor profiles of the dish showcasing the four facades of life in the Asian community, sweet, sour, bitter and salty. The Kon Lao Me is a vegetarian spin off a traditional noodle dish from Chef Jet's hometown in Sabah, Malaysia - shredded root vegetables replaces the noodles, whilst the exquisite Mangalitsa pork imported from Hungary graces the dish with its presence. Unfortunately, the protein took a back seat in this situation, its flavor and texture a tad subdued, allowing for the chilled salad to take centerstage. 

Spicy Beef Salad with Bittermelon, Asparagus & Tamarind
Vegetable 'Kon Lao Me' with sliced Pork
Burnt Nasu with Crab and Crispy Shrimp
Stylo Milo (L), Calpis (R)
Small plate options in this snazzy bar are aplenty but let me direct the spotlight on a couple that you would love to cozy up to. In the case of the 'Nan Ru' Pork Ribs with Ginger and Apricot ($17) with bubbled aromatic crust wrapped around piping hot flesh; a clever combination of red and white fermented bean curd elevates the dish to new heights and the side dip of ginger and apricot sauce are there to help when the dashes of white pepper tug at your throat.

Other snacks that have more ballast, but nothing that will make you feel like an anaconda are the highly recommended Crispy Pig Ears with Sichuan pepper & lime ($14) which arrives with a theatrical effect - brown paper bag with a pouch of Sichuan pepper magic dust and a wedge of lime. Proceed to give it 'shaker fries' treatment to attain a bagful of crunchy addictive treats. Definitely one to reinforce the strong line-up of cocktails at this fun joint.

'Nan Ru' Pork Ribs with ginger and apricot

Crispy Pig Ears with Sichuan pepper and lime
And here are the Homemade pancake with Spiced Pork Minced & Kaffir Lime Yogurt ($15), not your usual taco wannabe but a true rendition of what an Asian taco would be like, down to its outer shell of homemade pancake which had a texture similar to roti canai with the crisp flame licked edges of a naan. The generous slathering of spiced pork mince possessing a sort of sticky viscosity that fuses it to the shell with convenience as you make your malicious advances. Kaffir Lime yogurt provides a bit of cool relief from the slight zing in the meat mixture. It's smart, original and not quite like any other pancake dish I've had.

Homemade Pancake with spiced Pork minced and kaffir lime yogurt
Crispy Duck Curry with cauliflower and passionfruit
If you've got a party of 4 and would rather indulge in something substantial to line the stomachs. Then you could consider getting these 3 dishes with some rice to share. The Crispy Duck Curry with Cauliflower and passionfruit ($27) is a Thai-inspired curry tied together with the provocative tang of passionfruit. The duck leg, panfried on one edge for that shattering crust while confitted on the other to maintain its tender juicy integrity is smothered in aromatic curry, strafed by bits and bobs of cauliflower florets and mellowed with the tang of passionfruit; definitely ticks all the boxes for me.

From land to sea, we continue to dwell in the same laps of luxury with the Asam Pedas Salt water Barramundi with okra & eggplant ($22), a rebel rendition that presents a different form of fish in this commonplace dish. Between spoonfuls of curry laden rice, I shift my glance to the Wagyu Beef Char Siew ($28), beef short ribs that have been put through an arduous 48hr cooking process served with pickled papaya and cherry tomatoes. What the dehydrated shallot oil is doing on the plate, I can't say, but it sure does add to the aesthetics of the dish.
Wagyu Beef Char Siew with pickled papaya and cherry tomato

from top left (clockwise): Stylo Milo, Calpis, Fujiyama, Ca Phe Sua De, Roti Kaya
Silas Lee, Head Barman of Ding Dong working in collaboration with Tippling Club's Head Bartender Kamil Foltan has whipped up six new concoctions, some to pay homage to our nation's 50th birthday - unfortunately, with such an extensive cocktail list intact, distractions were aplenty and we settled with the above spread, the Stylo Milo ($20) , an absolute thrill on the eye as well as the palate to indulge in; with milo concentrate, green chartreuse, vanilla syrup and hakushu distillers reserve as foundation.

Side note: Ding Dong has a 3 course set lunch menu priced at an affordable $25++ per person which changes on a monthly basis. Top up $10++ for a glass of wine or Suntory premium malt for some mid-day gratification.

Frozen 'Pulut Panggang' with pandan & Coconut 

Ding Dong works the same humble sorcery on its desserts, playing on traditional classic Asian snacks as elements on its plate. The Frozen 'Pulut Panggang' with pandan and coconut ($13) is such a queer example, a sweet coconut cream-like filling encased in a jade green jellied nugget served on a wire mesh and flanked by a kueh loyang that appears black as night due to the virtues of carbon. I did not take to the dish so much given the rather disassociated lightweight elements plopped on to a goddamm heavy vessel. Instead, shifting my attention to the Mah Lai Gao ($15), a satisfying melange of flavors from the bruleed bananas, banana cream and fragrantly spongy steamed cake spurring some heavy dessert spoon battling over the table and violent kicking underneath the tables all in pursuit of the last bite. I kid you not.

Mah Lai Goh 'Malay Steamed Cake'
Stamford's Tea Party

Note that Ding Dong transforms into a cool club clan when night falls, and it would be such a shame if noise drove the crowds away.  Surrounded by a heavyweight list of dining establishments, Ding Dong has its' work cut out for it when it comes to drawing in the discerning crowds, but it should, however, strike most as a very good place to eat seasonal food that flirts with South East Asian ideas in exciting ways.

Ding Dong
23 Ann Siang Road
t: 6557 0189

Operating Hours:
Mon - Fri: 12pm - 3pm; 6pm - 12am
Sat: 6pm - 12am

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